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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, May 20, 2024


Nov. 20, 2001 – The high cost of maintaining the service has led officials to cancel the AT&T WorldNet Service local Internet access number in the Virgin Islands.
As of Jan. 7, 2002, AT&T WorldNet customers in the territory no longer will have a local access number, according to a message the company has been e-mailing to customers this month.
The company is encouraging people to cancel their WorldNet service before the cutoff date and to transfer to AT&T Business Internet Services, which will continue to provide a local Internet access number for fees comparable to the WorldNet service.
Cancellation of the WorldNet access number is an effort to cut the costs of providing several local access numbers to V.I. residents, according to Courtney Wynter, general manager of AT&T of the Virgin Islands.
"It was cost-prohibitive to have two separate platforms," Wynter said, adding that the cost of maintaining a local access number in the Virgin Islands is far higher than in most areas of the United States.
The service provider pays the local telephone company for the access number. In the Virgin Islands, that company is Innovative Telephone, the company formerly known as the V.I. Telephone Corp., or Vitelco. It is a subsidiary of Innovative Communication Corp.
AT&T also is eliminating its WorldNet service — which is available only to residential Internet users — in other small markets in Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, Massachusetts, Ohio and California, Wynter said.
Customers who transfer to AT&T Business Internet Services will have the same Internet access but will receive a new e-mail address. AT&T automatically will forward messages sent to the old address to the new address and will send a message to the senders informing them of the change of address, Wynter said. The changeover "will be completely transparent," he said.
AT&T Business Internet Services offers online access at various rates, from $5.95 for five hours a month up to $19.95 for a maximum of 150 hours a month. There is no unlimited Internet access option, but Wynter said 95 percent of customers do not use as much as 150 hours a month.
Some V.I. customers have expressed dissatisfaction with the coming cancellation of the WorldNet Service access number. In an e-mail message, WorldNet subscriber Kathie McCarthy wrote that she uses far more than 150 hours of Internet time a month and complained of the cost and inconvenience of changing business forms to reflect a new e-mail address and of letting people know about the change.
"This stinks!" she wrote, adding that she also has concerns about thousands of V.I. Internet users all trying to reach a single local-access number provided by AT&T Business Services.
Other companies providing local access numbers in the Virgin Islands include VIAccess, VIPowerNet, which also is owned by Innovative Communication Corp., and the MSN Network. These companies' rates are comparable, and they also may provide re-routing services to the new e-mail addresses.
Wynter urged WorldNet customers to cancel their accounts before the Jan. 7 cutoff date to avoid being billed for a service they can no longer use.
To cancel their WorldNet service, account holders can go to WorldNet member services online. Under the "Account Management" option, select "Canceling your account." (The site cannot be accessed by non-customers.)
For information about switching to AT&T Business Internet Services, customers can go to the att.bizcom web site or telephone 777-8783.

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